Take a Hike: Galtymore and Cush Mountain Loop
This one is not for the faint-hearted.
It’s a long way to this particular part of Tipperary (or Limerick), but it’s well worth it.
Starting/End point: Lough Curra Car park
Route distance: 13.5KM
Elevation gain: 1,000M
Duration: ~ 6 hours
Grade: Extra Difficult
Note: Dogs are not allowed on this trail
The Galtees are an impressive mountain range that have an “all-of-a-sudden-ness” to their stature.
Outside of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry, the mountain’s highest peak, Galtymore, is the highest in the country.
Standing at 918m above sea level, those that summit its steep faces are treated to a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. Not many mountains in Ireland will give you a vantage point over surrounding flat lands.
This circular route starts and ends from Lough Curra Carpark. You have the option of going clockwise or counter clockwise.
We decided to take the counter-clockwise option as, according to the map on HiiKER, you get most of the big climbing done at the start. Others choose the clockwise route as you can take a 20-25 minute spur trail to Lough Curra for a dip, which is particularly appealing on a hot summer’s day.
The start of this trail follows a forest path with a slight incline. This part of the route is well signposted and there is even a shortcut for those in a hurry. Don’t take the shortcut, take your time!
Every few hundred metres you are treated to a gap in the trees to reveal the towering mountains above and the valley you are leaving below.
The first major junction you arrive at is the Lough Curra Stile. This is a small ladder that leads over a fence that brings you to the base of the mountain. You are now on private land that has been approved for use by hillwalkers. But please, respect the owners of the land and the livestock that roam around. If you have brought a dog with you, the stile is your final destination as they are not allowed on the land.
From here, it is a steep climb up to the next junction. If you turn left here and follow the trail, you will arrive at Lough Curra, a spectacular lake surrounded by giant cliff walls.
If you’re still up for the challenge, continue straight through the junction to climb another steep section up Slieveacushabinnia (try saying that quickly four times). Eventually, you’ll get to a ridge which will bring you to the summit of Galtymore.
Take care when crossing the ridge as it is an almost vertical drop down to Lough Curra below. The views from here are incredible as the sun – providing it’s shining, of course – bounces off the lake below.
You’ll know you’ve reached the summit when you see the Iron White cross, erected in 1975 by Tipperary man, Ted Kavanagh, who may well have been trying to take the mountain in the name of his native county. Curiously, the actual summit sits a couple of hundred metres east of the cross, on the Limerick side of the mountain.
After about 100 selfies and soaking in the summit, you’re off toward the little sister, Galtybeg. The climb up Galtybeg is just as steep as the previous climbs. Once you reach the summit, it is almost an immediate descent down, with steep terrain yet again. Make sure you’re checking your location on the Hiiker app here as going too far down the wrong way could mean 30-40 minutes of correction!
Two mountains down, one to go. The last of the loops is Cush mountain.
A slow ascent and one final look back to the range from the summit will give you all the energy you need for the descent back down to the car park. Again, remember to check the route as you are on private land.
Once back down at the car park, a short spin to Cahir is ideal for the post-hike treats.
You can find an interactive map for this trail here.
HiiKER is an application, founded in Ireland that is helping people discover trails around the world safely. Download the app for free in the Appstore or Playstore.